I have made (or attempted to make) jelly 3 times. The first time I pretty much just watched and learned from the master (my grandma). The second time was a total failure — it didn’t turn into jelly. I’m not sure if I did something wrong in terms of the order of operations, or if there just was’t enough pectin. This year I totally nailed it.
Living in a small rural town, we have a lot of wildlife in our backyard. In the fall, bears come into town in search of food, which means that when our apple trees start to ripen, the bears come to us. To protect our trees, we pick our apples early and there are A LOT of them. A few people were intrigued by apple jelly, so I thought I’d share the recipe with you!
The recipe is right below and if you have questions about whether jelly is okay for people with arthritis, stick around to read more after the recipe.
- 2-3 Large pots
- 9 1-cup canning jars (or equivalent)
- Large bowl
- Tongs or jar lifter
- Canning funnel
- Apples or Crab apples
- 7 cups Sugar Per 5 cups juice, or to taste
- 1 pkg Pectin
- 1 tbsp butter
- Lemon juice [optional]
A. Make the juice
- Chop up the apples – remove the stem, blossom ends, and seeds. If some of the hard core remains that is perfectly fine — that’s just extra pectin!
- Add water (and optional lemon juice to minimize browning) to the pot or slow cooker. In a pot, you’ll need enough water to barely cover, but in the slow cooker, the waterline should be about an inch below the top of the apples (about 4-5 cups for a full slow cooker)
- Cook your apples. I used a slow cooker, but you can use a pot. I did 8 hours (overnight) on low the first time and 5 hours on high the last two times. Both worked well but the apples were darker and the juice redder when it was cooked longer.
- Mash the apples while hot (the apples reabsorb the liquid as it cools so it is easier to strain at the beginning)
- Strain out the juice.– Using a large bowl that your strainer can sit in, line the strainer with cheese cloth– I found a fine mesh strainer and 8-cup anchor measuring cup worked best, of the items that I had at home– Fill the strainer with mashed apples and cover with a cheesecloth. You may need to do this in multiple batches. Note the more filled the strainer is the more pressure to extract the juice– Let it drain for a while. When it slows get a small bowl and apply a little pressure or place a glass for a little extra weight.– When the liquid gets close to the bottom of the strainer, pour it off into another container.– I found that a full large slow cooker produced 5-6 cups of juice, but this will vary depending on the apple variety and ripeness, as well as the size of your pot or slow cooker.
B. Make the jelly
- NOTE: While you are making the jelly, you will need to have at least 2 pots going at the same time (perhaps 3 if you are using smaller canning jars and can’t fit them nicely into one pot). Once the jelly comes together it will be hectic so you need to have everything set up in advance.
- Prep:– Put all the jars into the pot(s) and cover with water– Have a space beside the stove open for the canning to happen (on a cooling rack or other heat safe surface)– Make sure you have tongs or jar lifters to safely pull the jars out of the water– Make sure your have the canning lids prepped and ready as well as a clean cloth to wipe the rims of the jars after filling– Measure out the sugar into a bowl and set aside– Pour the juice into a pot– If desired, you can place a plate in the fridge to cool so that you can test the thickness later)
- Turn on the elements under all the pots (the water will come to a boil in good time when you start it at the same time as the jelly, assuming you start with room temperature to warm water)
- Add the pectin, attempting to minimize clumps (I started with a whisk while adding the pectin then switched to my usual wooden spoon once it was in)
- Add a knob of butter
- Bring the juice + pectin to a boil. Stir frequently to ensure it heats and thickens evenly.
- Add the sugar, stirring while adding to avoid or break up clumps.
- Bring the jelly back to a boil.
- In the meantime, whenever the water comes to a rolling boil for the jars, turn it down to a simmer.
- You can confirm that it is thick enough by dripping a little bit of the jelly onto the cold plate from the fridge. It should start to thicken fairly rapidly as it cools.
C. Can the jelly
- NOTE: This is crunch time. You’re going to need to move efficiently. This is when you may want to kick everyone out of the kitchen if you have people hanging around. 🙂
- Turn off all the elements
- Pull some jars out of the water and fill them with jelly(using a funnel that comes with a canning kit is a jelly-saver)– You want the jars to still be warm when you add the jelly so I like to pull out 4-6 jars at a time. It also helps prevent as much of a skin forming on top of the jelly as the surface cools because you’re able to just pull out a few jars and get back to the jelly
- Once all the jelly is in jars, wipe the rims
- Then add the canning lids, tightening the rims finger tight
- Transfer all the jars back to the water, bringing the water back to a rolling boil for 10 minutes
- Finally, pull them all out of the water and let them cool, enjoying the satisfying pop of the lids as the jars cool.
Is jelly (or jam) bad for my arthritis?
A high sugar diet is associated with inflammation, so you may think that you should avoid jelly — given that it is more sugar than anything else! But there is a big difference between eating a whole jar of jelly with a spoon and adding some jelly to your toast or a salad dressing.
It all comes back to the idea of balance.
Too much sugar puts your body into a state where you are more likely to have inflammation. However, if you are eating a balanced diet, you can absolutely enjoy the taste of jelly! So feel free to turn your excess produce into jelly to eat and to share. Or buy some from the store, if you are not blessed with extra fruit this year.